Guided by engineer Gianni Lancia, the son of company founder Vincenzo, Lancia’s new Aurelia was the company’s first new postwar model. Developed with former Alfa Romeo engineer Vittorio Jano, the Aurelia’s all-new and lightweight all-aluminum engine was the world’s first production 60-degree V-6. A thoroughly modern overhead-valve design, it combined high power output with unprecedented refinement, running quietly and almost vibration-free.
The rest of the Aurelia’s mechanical features were equally impressive. Its new independent rear suspension was a modified DeDion design with trailing arms and rear half-shafts. The four-speed gearbox was mounted within a rear transaxle, the clutch was in unit with the gearbox, a two-piece prop-shaft was utilized, and the rear brakes were mounted inboard. The result was exceptional balance, while concentrating the rear weight in the center of the car kept un-sprung weight to a minimum.
The Aurelia’s radical new drivetrain was mounted to a stiff welded unit-construction body, which provided remarkably light and precise steering and handling. First offered as the B10 and introduced at Turin in 1950, the Aurelia created a sensation – it was an engineering tour de force, packaged in a delightful saloon with engaging Pininfarina coachwork.
By 1954, the stunning B24 Spider was introduced and primarily aimed at the lucrative American market. With its shorter 96.5-inch wheelbase and flowing Pininfarina design, it remains one of the era’s most beautiful and highly coveted cars. While its bold grille visibly established its Lancia heritage, nearly everything else was new, including the stylish quarter-bumpers, open bodywork and minimalist soft-top. An aggressive hood scoop heralded the 118 bhp, 2.5-liter version of the now-legendary V-6.
As great as the Aurelia-based B24 Spider was, it had one shortcoming. Their advanced specifications, limited-production coachwork and superb build quality made them expensive to build, and historians agree that Lancia lost money on every one. Financial problems and Italy’s labor issues nearly bankrupted the company. As a result, very few were built – 240 in all, with 181 left-hand drive B24S (sinistra = left) models and 59 right-hand drive B24 examples produced.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2011 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
118 bhp, 2,451 cc OHV 60-degree V-6 engine, Weber twin-choke carburetor, four-speed manual gearbox, sliding pillar independent front suspension and trailing arm and swing-axle rear suspension with four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes, inboard at rear. Wheelbase: 96.5"